The redesigned CLA has a lot in common with the new entry-level A-Class sedan. Even though the CLA is more expensive, the two cars share the same underlying mechanical design and look nearly identical from the front. Both cars also share an upscale pretense that our testers found is only skin deep.
Whether you prefer the CLA's longer, tapered tail is a matter of personal preference. One practical benefit of the design is a spacious trunk. But we found the sloping roofline and narrower rear door openings make it hard for passengers to get in and out of the rear seat, which is so small that it's almost useless. The CLA's front seats are supportive, but the head restraints can't be adjusted.
We like how the CLA's balanced handling gives the driver a good sense of control. Yet that comes at the expense of the ride, which is harsh and does a poor job at absorbing bumps. The CLA was quick in our acceleration tests and had plenty of power on tap for highway passing maneuvers, but it felt sluggish when driving in lower-speed urban traffic. The powertrain also suffers from some lurching hesitation during stop-and-go driving.